Finding Jonah in the First and Second Half of Life

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Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

(Jonah 1:1–3 NRSV)

Finding Jonah

Jonah is an old story, and it is even an over-told one. We so used to it being told from the perspective of Jonah as a vegetable, or other children’s stories that it seems too simplistic to be of use to us. Either that or we are caught in debates about whether it is a factual story or who are the wicked “Ninevites that need to be evangelized that” it can be difficult to find where Jonah fits for us today. But the story of Jonah – I like to think of it like a parable similar to a parable of Jesus’ – is something that is neither simple nor about evangelism, at least not in the way we have tended to think of it.

So what does it mean to “find Jonah” today? Continue reading

Discussion Guide for Parker Palmer’s “A Hidden Wholeness”

Sketchntoes for Chapter 5 - A hidden WholenessWe are continuing our conversation through Parker Palmer’s book, “A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Towards the Undivided Life.” This week I am going to post discussion guides for chapters 4, 5, 6. The way we are doing these groups is sort of like mini-circles of trust. We haven’t been as disciplined about some of the very helpful guidelines on how an actual Circle of Trust is conducted, but we are starting with silence, reading a poem (or other 3rd thing) and then asking open-ended questions about that to get the sharing started. It’s been a very powerful experience to do this with our group.

Previous downloads: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.

New Downloads

Chapter 4–5 – Discussion Guide
Chapter 4–5 – Sketchnotes

Chapter 6 – Discussion Guide with a discussion for the poem “The Woodcarver”
Chapter 6 – Sketchntoes

The Metamorphosis of the True Self (Romans 6:1-11)

The Metamorphosis of a Butterfly

Metamorphosis

I want to start with an image from the natural world, that symbolizes the marks of transformation is the metamorphosis of the butterfly.

How many of you have had the opportunity to watch a chrysalis transform before your very eyes into a butterfly? I find the metamorphosis of a butterfly captivating and beautiful. But, as with anything kind of change that takes place, it must happen carefully and in its own time. Each stage of metamorphosis is essential in the process of the butterfly becoming its “true self.”

Parker Palmer in his book we are reading for Fresh Bread “A Hidden Wholeness,” tells a story about how sensitive and fragile this process is. Continue reading

Seven Readings in Revelation (A Liberation Bible Study)

Images from the Book of Revelation

I have had the opportunity from time to time to write for Barclay Press. They have recently updated their website and created author pages, making some previously unavailable writings available online. Therefore, I wanted to share the link to the .pdf of my upcoming series of reflections on the book of Revelation published in the Fruit of the Vine, which are now available online.

In these reflections, I attempt to follow a more liberatory reading of the book of Revelation. Rather than reading it as a book about the end of the world, I suggest, following plenty of good scholarship, that this book really gives us a small glimpse into how the small, fledgling “minority” church, attempted to survive the oppressive imperial Roman regime. These reflections are based on a series of sermons I did on the subject in the spring of 2013 – those articles can be found here. Themes I cover in these reflections rooted in Revelation are nonviolence, justice for the poor and the beloved community. I hope you will enjoy it.

You can read the Revelation bible studies online here.

Reflecting on Grief and Pastoral Care

I am a monthly contributor to the blog Antioch Session. Antioch Session is a collective blog run by Zach Hoag and Scott Emergy and hosts a number of great writers all who are writing as a means to advance what they consider to be “creative Christianity” around three key areas: Liturgical, Missional and the cultural.

For this month’s contribution, I wrote an article about some of my experiences of walking with others who are grieving. It’s a follow-up post from my May article on Antioch Session about the death of my friend and Quaker pastor Stan Thornburg, as well as my article in Friends Journal about the suicide of my step-father. I wanted to reflect on what I’m learning through all of this from a pastoral care perspective. What does it mean to walk with another who is grieving?

Here is an excerpt:

But I am learning that in order to genuinely care for others, I must work at how I carry and tend to my own pain. Doing the grief work around my step-dad’s death has opened up new ways of connecting with others in their pain. I have to remind myself that is okay to admit that I need care too. A “wounded healer,” as Nouwen calls it, must learn how to descend that staircase into those buried wounds, even though we are afraid. In doing so, our own pain can become a source of a healing for others and our sensitivity can, like a diving rod, guide us in toward where the true woundedness resides in others.

Continue reading by following this link: In the Deep End With Grief: Thoughts on Pastoral Care With Those Hurting Most.

A Hidden Wholeness Chapter 3 – Sketchnotes and Discussion Questions

chapter 3 A hidden Wholeness Sketchnotes

chapter 3 A hidden Wholeness Sketchnotes

We have been reading through Parker Palmer’s “A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward and Undivided Life,” at our church lately and are loving it.

I have been sharing our discussion notes each week (Week one and Week two can be found here).

Here are the links for chapter three:

Quotes, Scripture and Discussion Notes for chapter 3 here.

Download sketchnotes for chapter 3 here.

Write the Vision: Quakers, Zines and Participatory Culture

Flickr credit: cibergaita

This is a synchroblog written for Quaker Voluntary Service, of which I am a board member. The theme is “Quakers and new media.” (Twitter Link #qvssynchroblog)

“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:2–3 NRSV)

Early Publishers of Truth

Early Quakers called themselves, among other things, “Publishers of Truth.” They published truth with a missionary fervor, writing in order that a new world would be given forth from their written, as well as spoken, words. As I read early Friends, I see their publishing being very much related to how they understood the mission of the church to be, at its heart, participatory. As we think about who and what are the publishers of truth today – and if there is even such a thing left – I can’t help but suggest that any form of publishing that is not at its core participatory, inclusive and prophetic in nature is not rooted in the identity of these “Publishers of Truth.”

Just by way of background, these Publishers of Truth were an almost unstoppable force. Consider what Quaker historian, Elbert Russell, says in his “The History of Quakerism” (1979),

In spite of some arrests for owning, circulating or selling Quaker publications, and in a few cases the seizure of destruction of offending presses, there was a large output of printed matter. In the seven decades after 1653 there were 440 Quaker writers, who published 2,678 separate publications, varying from a single page tract to folios of nearly a thousand pages (79).

Russell goes on to explain how censorship worked back then, first oversight was given by George Fox, then it moved to a designated meeting of elders. The nature of the writing was often publicly articulating their beliefs, writing epistles to other meetings, creating pamphlets and responding to attacks from their detractors (80). There are others who can track the history of publication far better than me, but for much of Quaker history Friends have kept a steady hand on the printing press and they left us something to learn from and build on today. It was an essential thread to who the early Friends were. Continue reading

Remixing Tradition in Today's World by C. Wess Daniels